A History of Scapegoating, Surveillance, and Secrecy in Modern America
By Jay Feldman
(Anchor, Paperback, 9780307388230, 416pp.)
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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A riveting and unsettling history of the assault on civil rights and liberties in America—from World War I to the War on Terror—by the acclaimed author of When the Mississippi Ran Backwards.
In this ambitious and wide-ranging account, Jay Feldman takes us from the run-up to World War I and its anti-German hysteria to the September 11 attacks and Arizona’s current anti-immigration movement. What we see is a striking pattern of elected officials and private citizens alike using the American people’s fears and prejudices to isolate minorities (ethnic, racial, political, religious, or sexual), silence dissent, and stem the growth of civil rights and liberties. Rather than treating this history as a series of discrete moments, Feldman considers the entire programmatic sweep on a scale no one has yet approached. In doing so, he gives us a potent reminder of how, even in America, democracy and civil liberties are never guaranteed.
Jay Feldman is also the author of the critically acclaimed When the Mississippi Ran Backwards. He is a widely published freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Smithsonian, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Gourmet, The New York Times, and many other national, regional, and local publications. He has written for television and the stage, and is the author of the novel Suitcase Sefton and the American Dream.
Praise for Jay Feldman's Manufacturing Hysteria:
“A cautionary, liberalizing history—and a book that serves as a philosophical call to arms.”
—The Christian Science Monitor
“A chilling overview of how American political culture has generated domestic enemies to justify massive infringements of rights.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“It is useful to have the entire history outlined in a single volume, for as more recent events have made plain, the susceptibility of the American populace to appeals based on fear and prejudice has not been eradicated.”
—The Washington Post
“A readable and interesting history of an important period that explains, in part, how we got to this sad juncture.”
—New York Journal of Books
“A richly researched, engrossing book.”
—Death and Taxes Magazine
“Expansive . . . Remarkably detailed and researched. . . . Manufacturing Hysteria proves particularly adept at identifying and explaining the dangerous ground on which national and political solidarity stand during times of perceived crisis and threat. Feldman’s historical lens, in the final analysis, has its focus firmly on the present.”
—The Post and Courier
“A chilling tale about what lies ahead if aggressive political discourse continues to divide and conquer the American people.”
“What Feldman makes clear is that . . . American ideals—which it is clear he treasures—are so frequently undercut by American actions. . . . Fascinating.”
—Sacramento News & Review
“Jay Feldman’s highly readable account of the long, sad story of civil liberties in America is as close to entertaining as such a history can be. He reminds us that the protections of the Bill of Rights are always available to us except when we have dire need of them.”
—Nicholas von Hoffman, author of Radical: A Portrait of Saul Alinsky
“An exhaustive look at how the United States government officially and unofficially, legally and illegally, monitored and controlled the populace. Manufacturing Hysteria is an excellent reminder to readers to exercise vigilance in preserving civil liberties.”
—San Francisco Book Review
“Feldman ably sketches out instances of the trampling of [our] constitutional rights . . . and offers especially fine analyses of the McCarthy era. . . . Feldman’s history offers a sharply revisionist view of 20th-century America that eschews triumphalism.”
“Well-written and informative.”
“[A] readable, often chilling account. . . . Feldman makes a disturbingly compelling case that . . . scapegoating of minorities and unpopular political views—backed by the power of the state—has become almost an American tradition.”
“Approachable and never dryly academic. . . . Feldman forcefully shows how the civil rights we assume will always be part of our democracy have been dangerously trampled on, compromised or outright ignored by the government, often under the banner of national security.”